The economic crisis of the 14th century
The medieval economic revolution of the 12th and 13th centuries led to a boom in activity in Europe, and especially in France. But this was cut short abruptly at the start of the 14th century due to a number of events: climate change, crises in agricultural production (in particular the great famine of 1314-1317), the devastation caused by the start of the Hundred Years' War between France and England in 1337, the various calamities suffered by the Byzantine Empire, epidemics (the Black Death from 1347 to 1351, followed by repeated outbreaks up until 1370). As a result of these epidemics in particular, the population in some regions of Europe was more than halved. France's population only returned to its 1320 level in around 1600. Against this backdrop, goods prices fell sharply, and there were numerous state defaults throughout Europe, as well as bankruptcies of private banks: in 1345, for example, Edward III of England defaulted on his debt, while the Florentine banks Bardi and Perruzi both went bankrupt. The epidemics also prompted a rise in wages as the supply of labour became increasingly scarce.